Sam

Advanced Jazz

In Dance, Random on September 6, 2016 at 11:55 pm

The last time I took Advanced Jazz was for a workshop, let’s just say I haven’t been back on that level since. It might have been over two or three years ago but I remember vividly how difficult it was. The level was far beyond what I was capable of and I clearly drowned in sweat and amateurism, I don’t recall doing too well!

I have decided it’s time for another crack after watching videos posted by Ailsa, I sifted through every Int/Adv Jazz videos to get a feel of what to expect. I recognised many steps and thought they were achievable – besides the odd splits and high legs, I believe it’s time to try again.

I asked Ailsa too during my private ballet lesson, yes, I had a one-on-one on techniques and the basics of ballet – it was an astonishing eye-opener and she was amazing. I mean it. I learned more in an hour with her than all the lessons combined – I always knew ballet was more complicated than what I was picking up in class. Not to say the class is bad – it’s actually superb, but usually there are many people and it’s difficult to go through techniques with every individual, certainly not the depth I’ve been wanting to learn. I would imagine most people are happy to take class as an exercise, whereas I yearn for precision, structure and an understanding of ballet, I wanted corrections. Ailsa taught me ballet the way it should be, that it is HARD.

And I loved it!

Anyway, to sum up my week, Monday I did Adv. Tap, Beg. Jazz and Private lesson Ballet, Tuesday it was Adv. Jazz (which I will get to shortly!), Wednesday the return of Flamenco (Gloria had a month break!), and Thursday Ballet and Contemporary. You can imagine my body right now, I reckon I’ll ache until Sunday at least.

Advanced Jazz

Here we are, sorry I haven’t written for a while, I waffle.

So, I turned up in Studio 3 – the main studio was undergoing resurfacing – not ideal as 3 is rectangular and much too small for Jazz. Ailsa had to improvise the class. I walked in and was immediately scanned by what felt like half the class stretching on the floor, I have seen a few of them before but some I haven’t, they were classy, slim and agile and looked like they belonged – they were dancers. I, on the other hand was joined by K and the young lad from Beginners Jazz – he’s got a massive pair of cahonas for going there, he’s barely had half a year of Beginners! I actually admire his guts. I was on the fringe, away from the core of girls who knew what they were doing!

The warm-up was TOUGH, now I thought Carlotta’s was difficult, this was the next level – it was savage! Didn’t help by the fact it was a terribly humid evening and I had sweat pouring from every part of my body. Still, I loved it! I tried to keep up and think I did for 95% of it, there were burpees and spiderman crawls… they worked my shoulders and arms, it was fantastic! I haven’t had a workout like that for a LONG time, it was borderline torture! I engaged plenty of new muscles.

The across the room was humbling, they were familiar steps but twice the speed and slightly trickier to remember. Now that I think about it, I can physically cope with Adv. Jazz, the trick is to train my memory better, get my brain up to that speed and I should be ok. If that’s the level Ailsa teach, then that’s the level I reach. For my first time, I don’t think I did that badly… I just need to compensate flexibility with whatever I can. I did admire the girls, they were very good, didn’t feel worthy to be among them – but meh, I gotta do my own thing.

Routine, now I struggled with the speed. Ailsa did warn me that it’s fast, I won’t have time to absorb, I had to memorise quicker. She’s absolutely right, I got all the steps, but my mind lagged about 2 seconds behind – in dance term, that’s an eternity! I did my best to concentrate (I could have done better), and just couldn’t match the speed. I’m sure when the video is out, I will watch it and squirm, urgh. Anyway, the routine can be forgotten – I’ll chalk it under embarrassing debut! I’m not scared of the class, there’s only so much we do in Beginners, it doesn’t matter how long I stay there for – I will never do anything at Adv. speed, wouldn’t it make sense to keep coming here? Only by pushing myself to the brink will I improve, I’m confident of that. Just need to get the initial hurdle over with – need to reprogram my brain to process faster. I’ll be fine, give me time to acclimatise!

So, not the smoothest of debut, but physically I did well to keep up, just need to raise the game.

It’s exciting!

Manchester: Bachata

In Dance, Manchester, Rant on July 29, 2016 at 11:55 pm

I went to my first ever Bachata class, it’s opposite the Dancehouse, very convenient and familiar ground for me. From the outside it’s an ordinary building but the top floor has two decent-sized dance/gym studios, it’s nicer than I expected.

Beginners class

There was no introduction, no quick run-down of class schedule. We went straight into the warm-up, I had no idea what to expect. The crowd was a variety of average people. I mention this because I’ve been accustomed to classical dancing (Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet) where a level of fitness is required, it’s a different environment I guess. Although looks can be deceiving, but the latin flavour attracts certain type of men you won’t find in the classes I usually go to. My soft nature was telling in a ‘macho’ environment, that’s a good thing right? I need to express more in Flamenco and a latin dance can enhance my confidence. Social dancing is a completely different beast – from what I can remember, it’s about making sure the lady is enjoying her dance – and less about my own self-expression. Is this correct? Personally I still prefer the self-reliance in classical dancing. If that makes sense?

I was ok with the footwork (simple shuffles), turns, plus a lot of hips included. Didn’t take me long to find the old salsa groove, it was nice to dance with different partners again. They were all kind and courteous. Except for one. For my first Bachata lesson I think I did well – this lady however, in her pretty dress, didn’t smile, didn’t talk, didn’t make eye contact, and basically couldn’t wait to switch partner – as if she was too good for me. I thought… she’s in Beginners, how good can a Beginner be? I’m not bothered about her thoughts, I just didn’t like the rudeness and lack of focus in our dance – isn’t there an unwritten rule to treat your partner with civility and respect? Isn’t it good etiquette to say thank you? Instead, she turned and walked off. It’s rude! She’s the type of person who can put off a shy beginner from returning to class. If I was the teacher and spotted that, I’d move her up to Intermediate, she might enjoy it more there. Guess what, she didn’t stay for Intermediate.

The hour flew by. I had fun! I’ve been reminded of my weakness in leading, though I find some partners are easier to lead – there’s an element of trust, I needed more conviction in my movements – once I’m in the flow, it’s fine! I don’t have much technique on my arms and hands, I never learned the subtleties of the grip – that’s the detail missing. There’s so much I can deconstruct, I tried to ask questions but they sound stupid… details are so important, it’s the little things. Anyone can do big steps or learn to co-ordinate, it’s the little soft gesturing that’s so important in leading – it’s like trying to find an indicator for a car. Same thing! You lead by suggesting what is coming next… I definitely need to work on that.

Freestyle dancing?

 The teacher disappeared and I had no idea what was going on, some danced and a majority started chatting and checking their phones. I was just keen to dance! I thought it was weird that no-one was looking to dance in a dance class! I asked a couple of girls and they happily obliged, I’d like to think they enjoyed my haphazard interpretation of Bachata!

Intermediate/Improvers

A new person came in and people lined up, a few of us had no idea what was going on – the warm-up footwork looked fun so I joined in! It was halfway through the lesson before one of the organisers told me it was an Improvers class! Another hour passed easily, we learned a very sexy arm/spinning combo, something I’ve seen in Salsa but never had the chance to learn. It was challenging and much more fun! Only the last part threw me off a bit, my arms and legs didn’t co-operate as much, not had enough time to memorise the move – a tiny hiccup in two hours isn’t bad!

I didn’t talk to any of the men, they all looked a bit serious, we just shared the space! Maybe it’s the male posturing, something I’d never understand. I paid £6 for the first lesson and offered to pay for the second too, it’s an honest thing to do, I just fell into the class. I know dancers have to make a living so I did the right thing. That’s £12 for tw0 hours, ouch!

What are the teachers like?

Both the guys were friendly, but that’s it. Some people are approachable – I don’t think they were, that’s my impression. I’ve seen my fair share of dance teachers, I know how to tell them apart. Then again, they don’t know me. They might be thinking I’m just another one-off guy? I don’t know, the lady organiser, possibly Anne was very nice and friendly – I appreciated that.

Would I come back?

There were enough things to tempt me back either on Wednesdays or Fridays. Now that Flamenco is on a break until September (noooo!), I could fit Wednesdays in, can try this before Salsa. I did like the size of the class, and the teaching was ok. I definitely need to keep going to form a better opinion. There’s nothing wrong with the set-up, the only gripe I had was the dancing partner – but that’s not their fault. Yes, I had a good time and it’s a cute class that I would like to see more of.

Bachata-tata!

Engxit: Euro 2016

In News, Rant, Sports on June 27, 2016 at 11:55 pm

After qualifying with a 100% record and decent expectations of a young team, yet again we failed. This time probably as humiliating as our World Cup 2014 adventure in Brazil, or this could be our greatest humiliation ever.

We drew with a poor Russian team by conceding a last minute goal (1-1), we beat Wales by a last minute goal (2-1), and couldn’t score against a determined Slovakia because of six unnecessary changes to the line-up (0-0). If we had beaten Slovakia we would have gone a different route towards the final – by sheer blessing we got Iceland for the last 16. The population of Iceland is 323,000 – less than the population of Leicester.

We were expected to win against the lowest ranking team left in the tournament.

Well… that was the script – except no one read it.

We scored an early penalty and then conceded two in quick successions. Fair enough, we had more than enough time to fight back and get a goal – simple enough – but just like the game against Slovakia, nobody stepped up. Before halftime I could tell we had no control over the midfield, their players were more determined than ours in winning everything – all the crosses into the box were met by a staunch Icelandic head, we never had the height anyway but even so, air route was going nowhere. Ground route had zero success either, but we did do plenty of stray balls and long shots.

In second half I could tell panic was setting in, their body postures were awful, they weren’t running, there were no leaders, no passion, and no tactics. The longer it dragged on, the more desperate we were to try long shots, and by the 60th minute the balloon popped, suddenly no-one had any fight left. Iceland was comfortable coming out, they weren’t scared because we carried no threat, mentally the England squad was in pieces, that’s one of their greatest weakness… they’re so scared, anxiety froze the entire team bar one or two players. Shots were hoofed all over the arena, crosses went all over the place, it was awful… we must have been the worst team in Euro, it must have been hilarious to the rest of Europe. We were utterly abysmally depressing, everything about our touch stank… the pub urged and screamed at them to move on, but nothing came. Rashford injected a lot of energy but he was only introduced with six minutes left, could have come on sooner! I would vote him as Man of The Match!

So, another major tournament out.

It was embarrassing for every English supporter out there, it was shockingly bad.

Credit to Iceland for sticking to their game plan and wanting the win more than our boys. Good luck against France. I have nothing left to say about the lads… when they get home, they will be booed. If they went out fighting like Lions that’s fine, but they meekly surrendered to a country smaller than Leicester. It’s shambolic isn’t it?

Oh well, out of the EU, out of the Euros, we really don’t want any part in anything!